Computer Science vs. Computer Programming: Similarities and Differences

  revature |

Embarking on a new career path can be challenging. Following the right trajectory is an essential part of the process. For people interested in a career in technology, understanding the differences between computer science and computer programming and the work professionals in these fields do can be the key to moving forward.

Computer scientists and computer programmers play a valuable role in our society. From designing the devices we work on to writing the code for the software that powers new companies, computer scientists and computer programmers are instrumental in guiding us to our technological future.

By pursuing a program that provides associates with the valuable hands-on skills required to steer these innovations, professionals can pursue an exciting new career in technology.

Computer Science

Computer scientists specialize in the study of how computers function. From analyzing the ways computers use information to theorizing ways to create new technology, computer scientists study the essentials of how computers work and how to apply that technology in innovative ways.

Focusing on theory, professionals with a background in computer science use the fundamentals of how computers work to research how they can be made more efficient and useful. They explore concepts, conduct experiments, upgrade or refine systems, and work to solve existing problems.

Computer science professionals can qualify for careers that include:

  • Software developer: Creating and designing programs that improve a user’s experience and allow them to perform different tasks with their devices
  • Computer hardware engineer: Working with computer components and devices to develop and design the specific parts of a computer
  • Computer systems analyst: Assessing an organization’s systems and putting plans or systems in place to improve or streamline them, allowing the organization to function more efficiently
  • Computer and information research scientist: Conducting research and working to invent technology that solves the problems industries and users face

Job Outlook

Computer science professionals are versatile. They are trained to work in a variety of organizations and to perform a large range of tasks, from research to development to innovation. Not only that, exciting roles are available for computer scientists across industries. Jobs for computer and information technology professionals are projected to grow by 13% between 2020 and 2030, much faster than the projected national average growth, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Experienced computer science professionals had a median annual salary of $97,430 as of May 2021, according to the BLS. While factors such as location, education, work experience, and industry can affect the annual salary of a computer scientist, new professionals can move forward with the reassurance that technology is becoming an ever more important and integral part of our lives.

Computer Programming

Responsible for writing the code for software applications and operating systems, computer programmers create the instructions that computers follow. Drawing on theories gained from their knowledge of computer science, computer programmers develop, test, and implement programs on multiple platforms. While computer science and computer programming each involve software programs and theories, their day-to-day tasks can look different.

With the ability to work independently and on a variety of different projects, computer programmers work at a range of organizations and create programs or software solving a multitude of issues. By helping to develop new programs and solve problems in existing ones, computer programmers are able to improve their organization’s efficiency and bottom line, and reach their professional goals.

Computer programmer roles include:

  • Computer programmer: Creating the foundation for how software or programs function, using code to build, change, or rewrite programs
  • Web developer: Designing the code for different websites and helping an organization create a platform that meets their needs
  • Software developer: Crafting new computer programs and technology to solve existing problems or help an organization build technology for the future

Job Outlook

Experienced computer programmers had a median annual salary of $93,000 as of May 2021, according to the BLS. An average of 9,700 job openings are projected each year over the next decade, primarily to replace individuals who are retiring or changing careers. Many of the skills gained by computer programmers can prepare them to move laterally within the tech field later in their careers if they choose.

Computer Science vs. Computer Programming

At the heart of what separates computer science from computer programming is the distinction between theory and practice. While both job fields are related, computer science focuses on the theory of computation and designing software based on those theories, whereas computer programming is the process of designing actual software and programs.

Similarities

Professionals in computer science and computer programming rely on their knowledge of the fundamentals of how computers work to complete their tasks, which include developing new programs and improving existing ones. Computer scientists and computer programmers focus on developing a specific skill set to reach their career goals, including skills in mathematics, analytics, attention to detail, and coding.

Differences

Computer programmers rely on the research and discoveries of computer scientists to complete their tasks, which focus on coding or software creation. Meanwhile, computer scientists have the opportunity to work on either side of the field, researching how computers work or applying that research to test new theories and programs.

For both computer programmers and computer scientists, the ability to multitask, think critically, and work well both independently and as a part of a team are great assets to their careers, allowing them to solve problems and help steer their organization in the right direction.

Develop a Bright Future

Computer scientists and computer programmers play an integral role in our lives, creating new technology and ensuring that the computer programs and systems we rely on are constantly improving and making our lives better. For individuals looking to take the next step in their careers, understanding the differences when it comes to computer science vs. computer programming is essential.

By pursuing tech training programs offered by Revature, new job seekers and career changers can build hands-on skills as well as valuable work experience, preparing themselves to move forward in their careers with confidence. With its innovative model — associates get paid throughout their training and during a placement with one of Revature’s partners — the Revature program attracts motivated professionals like you.

Explore Revature’s dynamic program, and discover your potential future in computer science or computer programming.

Recommended Readings

My Revature Story: Show Don’t Tell
A 5-Step Guide to Change Careers
How to Compete for Entry-Level Jobs in Software Development

Sources:

The Balance Careers, “What Does a Computer Programmer Do?”
Indeed, “What Is a Computer Scientist? Definition, Salary and Skills”
Medium, Computer Science vs. Computer Programming: What’s the Difference?
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Computer and Information Research Scientists
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Computer and Information Technology Occupations
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Computer Programmers
U.S. News & World Report, Computer Programmer